What an amazing weekend at WordCamp Las Vegas! 34SP.com sent two of their team to Las Vegas, to once again take in a truly global view of all things WordPress. The timing was perfect as our brand new WordPress Hosting platform has launched in beta and we were eager to learn what currently successful WordPress experts and users alike view as important to the future of WordPress.
WordCamp Las Vegas was held over the weekend at the Innevation Center on the edge of Las Vegas. In one direction is the city and the Las Vegas Strip – look the other way and you see a beautifully desolate landscape of rock, sand and mountains for as far as the eye can see. The center is a fantastic facility which houses a large number of Internet startups located in and around Las Vegas. The conditions during the event can be described in one word: HOT. Las Vegas in September averages 35 C. That’s the average during the day. It felt even hotter at the location of the event.
You can see the variety & experience of the speakers at WordCamp Las Vegas. They were all truly outstanding. The presentations ranged from novice to advanced – and covered a wide variety of subjects from business strategy to using WordPress-specific tools, themes and plugins.
Among the many WordPress experts in attendance was Brandon Coster, the Lead Implementer and Developer with The BBS Agency. 34SP.com asked Brandon about his experience at this year’s Las Vegas WordCamp – here is what he had to say:
“In my opinion the greatest part of WordCamp Las Vegas was the massive sense of community. I was surprised that with the years I’ve been using and working with WordPress, I didn’t know there was a community so open to one another and willing to share every drop of knowledge. It has rejuvenated my drive to become a better and more productive part of the WordPress community.
A couple of the things I learned that will help me grow my business and brand include how important it is to use the right tools and use them properly – that is, not chasing a green dot when using the SEO by Yoast plugin. That may not seem like it can help, but if you sound like a robot in your writing, you will lose traffic to your site. Another thing I learned would be to find that group of tools that suit your needs and learn them in and out. Completely master those tools and you can become more productive and produce a better website with less stress, better outcomes, and a happier client.
I’ve also learned that it’s an amazing community that rivals most I’ve been a part of. I felt as if I was an equal among my peers, regardless if they knew more or less than me, everyone knew something that someone else didn’t. The best advice I could give to those that want to help grow and give back to the community is to make a point of helping those with questions. Spend a bit of free time a few days a week and as Devin Walker from Word!mpress said, go to the forums whether you’ve just started to learn WordPress or are an expert, and help those that you can. Share your knowledge and advance another persons, it will only grow the community and make it that much more accessible.”
Kitty Lusby is an Author and Adventurer who presented at WordCamp Las Vegas. Kitty is a 100 percent self-made professional blogger found at KittyLusby.com. Her enthusiasm for communication and writing made her presentation a joy to witness. Not to mention her exploding confetti. Kitty weighed in on her WordCamp Las Vegas experience as follows:
“I’ve never been to a WordCamp before, so this experience was a little extra incredible as a newbie. Naming a ‘most’ rewarding part of WordCamp Las Vegas is difficult – the information shared by the other speakers was so valuable, and I’m finding that I can already apply it to my own work and improve my skills. On top of that, I made so many new connections with people who are genuine, warm, and so incredibly knowledgeable, and they’re all willing to step up and help each other out at a moment’s notice. That kind of thing doesn’t happen often in other industries.
One of my clients actually came to WordCamp this year because I was speaking, and there were a couple of talks that he thought sounded useful for a company just beginning to test the blogging waters. Scott Roeben talked about his experience as a corporate blogger and giving examples of how those blogs could be powerful tools, but corporate culture resists that kind of change, and this client turned to me and apologized for having some of those same objections. Because I had that client there to listen to Scott directly, it saved me months of trying to explain in meetings and through email that a blog is NOT an advertisement, and it’s NOT a news release. Just by sitting in that room, it’s now easier for me to do my job, and if I tried really hard I could probably tell you how much money that’s going to make for me. Scott, if you’re reading this, I owe you a Captain and Coke.
It’s not just the WordPress Community in Las Vegas, but the community as a whole! We’re a group of people who, by nature, spend a huge portion of our time existing on the web. Some of us have personalities that exist primarily on the internet, and we might have trouble connecting in real life. Getting face-to-face with people was a pleasure, especially since I’m new to the Vegas area (I’ve only lived here for a few months) and I work from home and don’t know my neighbors. Just after I moved here, I met lots of people, but none of those connections really had the potential for friendship…and then I met Russell at a blogging Meetup, and he was the first person here that I was willing to put forth an effort to keep talking to. From there, I’m gradually being introduced into this wider WordPress community, and these people are incredible. Being at WordCamp, I was surrounded with people who are exactly the right kind of weird, and it was wonderful. If anyone wants to contribute to this community, the best advice I can give is to just show up. Go to a Meetup, sign up for a WordCamp, and just go participate in a conversation. It’s worth the ten seconds of awkwardness to meet a new person in this community.”
Russell Aaron is the Owner and Daily Operations Manager at Gravity Styles and he took on the awesome responsibility as lead organiser for this year’s WordCamp Las Vegas. In addition to all of the pre-preparation required for such an event, Russ also oversaw the sessions and introduced speakers and spurred interaction on every level. He also acted as the moderator during the open question and answer session that concluded WordCamp Las Vegas.
Here is the recap that Russell Aaron related to us on his WordCamp Las Vegas 2015 exprience:
“My thoughts on WordCamp Vegas 2015 are very simple. The event was not real to me until people started to show up on Saturday morning, expecting coffee and WordPress. Before that day, everything was a bit fake with me. I had this budget, but I couldn’t roll around in the money. So it was just a number. I made all of these digital designs for the badges and t-shirts. I hadn’t a t-shirt in hand to verify that the event was really happening, once again.
The thing that sticks around in my mind is the Open WordPress Discussion. Gathering all of the Speakers, Sponsors and Attendees into one room and allowing everyone to ask questions and receive real answers from other users of WordPress was amazing. Usually at a WordCamp, you ask a hosting company for advice. You receive a card and they tell you to email them in the next week or so. We cut that out. We put everyone in the same room and there was nothing to hide behind. What happened is that everyone stepped up and brought a conversation to the table and a greater conversation started to form.
I shared my strategy with the entire camp before the keynote was given. I wanted everyone to be aware that we did not label each room. Usually WordCamp events will determine that a room is the ‘Beginner’ room. Attendees tend to camp in these rooms all day. What we did was drop the labels and move speakers around every time. This way, people had to get up and move around. The attendees were moving around and I think it kept the moral up through out the event. I think that’s what surprised me the most. I never know what to expect when it comes to attendees. Some people could be advanced in my opinion, but they may feel like a beginner in their own eyes. So asking them to pick a label is kind of useless. I learned that people want to join the WordPress Community. They may not know how to get involved. So opening the door for those individuals was powerful. It’s a great feeling knowing that you may be responsible for the next big plugin. Just because you are a speaker, doesn’t mean that you have more to say than someone in the audience. Remember that kids. You have just as much to say about WordPress as anyone else.”
Here is a recap from a number of attendees of the WordCamp Las Vegas show: http://www.wpwatercooler.com/video/ep154-wordcamp-las-vegas-2015-recap
Overall the event was a great success and we here at 34SP.com are all looking forward to WordCamp Las Vegas 2016.
Don’t forget that 34SP.com is a Platinum Sponsor of WordCamp Manchester which will be held on October 10th and 11th 2015 in Manchester. You can find out more or get tickets to attend at: manchester.wordcamp.org/2015.